Old 08-03-2012, 06:28 AM
Horror Film Cliches

What are horror fan's thoughts about horror film cliches? Do you like seeing certain cliches being executed or are there cliches you wish would stay out of the genre?

How would you turn a cliche on it's head and create something a bit fresh?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2012, 07:06 AM
Kinda goes across multiple genres, but I hate the need to explain technology that hasn't been new for 10 years. Like when someone says "I researched this over the internet" or "I'd better send them an email via my mobile phone", like either of those is some sort of technological marvel these days. Stupid and insulting.

In horror specifically, re-explaining horror rules of the past, as they relate to this movie, gets really old. Like in zombie films, they take half an hour to work out you have to shoot them in the head, and then spend the next hour shouting things like "No you idiot, you have to shoot them in the head!". Anyone who's ever heard of a zombie knows that! Just shutup and do it!

Or in vampire movies, where they feel the need to go through every single legend about vampires, what they're vulnerable to, whether they can change into bats, whether they sleep in coffins etc. and give reasons why this movie has chosen to go a certain way. Here's an idea, if a stake through the heart works, just show that and we'll fucking know. If sunlight doesn't work, show them walking around in daylight without a care in the world.

I guess this whole post comes down to just "Do what you're going to do and stop explaining it to me!".
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2012, 07:39 AM
I agree completely with what you've said. I think by now we have reached a point where we understand what things are and how they work.

The idea of a mobile phone has made it an interesting dilemma when creating a story that relies, especially in horror films, on suspense. The old "car that can't be started trick" has been replaced in some ways by the "phone is out of reception or batteries are low".
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2012, 12:31 PM
Yeah, the mobile phone is a constant problem for screenwriters I reckon, because you can't ignore it. If you do, people ask "Why didn't they call for help? Morons" and if you give it low reception or batteries, people huff and go "What a cliche". I'm guilty of both, but it's one of those things that just isn't an easy fix.

People who drop vital evidence/weapons at crucial moments always piss me off in movies. Especially horror. If there's a killer after you, hang onto that gun/knife and make it count.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2012, 09:58 PM
Yes the weapons you have as a character in a horror film are essential to survival (obviously this wouldn't always be the case) and to just drop them and not use them or only use them once and if it's effective throw it away is just ridiculous.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2012, 08:12 AM
Here's a possible solution for the mobile phone issue in a horror film.

How many of you occasionally leave your mobile phone at home or lose it somewhere?

Imagine this scenario - The victim is investigating a noise they heard (a cliche in and of itself I know) so they go into the darkness. We know there is a killer out there. The victim is about to be attacked. To increase suspense we are then shown the victim's mobile phone left somewhere else and one of their friends who knows about the killer on the loose is trying to contact the victim but obviously can't...the victim's fate is sealed.

Does this avoid the cliche do you think or does it create a new cliche? Has this been done in a horror film already?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2012, 10:23 AM
I know you said 'the victim' but it made me think of Scream, so I'm going with a 'she'. "Might as well go outside to investigate a strange noise, or something."

I think by showing the phone, you're just yelling at the audience "See! She doesn't have her phone!" and you'll get groans. A better option might be to have her go outside, not have her phone, rush back inside and try to find it. Maybe it's under some papers and she eventually finds it. Everyone's lost their phone at some point or been looking for it and unable to find it despite it sitting exactly where you left it, and I don't think you see it as often as low batteries or lack of reception.

Or, have it get smashed in an altercation, but so it still kinda works. She picks it up and tries to dial, but the screen is all cracked so it dials the wrong number when she presses it. Try again, tension mounting. At least then it's still a possible option and we're not being treated like babies.

I think the biggest problem is filmmakers doing the obvious 'watch as I take out the phone option' thing. Don't wink at the audience, make us believe it. Again, just my 2 cents.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2012, 05:36 PM
I definitely know about placing something somewhere and then coming back to look for it and looking for a long time then finally realising it was not far away hahahaha - so that would be a good way to get around the cliche.

The phone being damaged would be another option too.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2012, 10:14 PM
I've been watching a lot of horror documentaries lately on the Chiller network, featuring interviews from John Carpenter to the Splat Pack and they all agree on the false scares cliche like running into an innocent character while turning a corner or a cat shrieking as it flies out from a garbage dumpster. If you're going to JOLT an audience, make it count with the killer attacking instead!
Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2012, 02:07 AM
I agree about false scares in movies. The cliche loud sting noise I think is still effective but only every so often and not for every single jump scare moment in the movie - it also has to be followed by the baddie attacking.

Look at the original Halloween in the scene where Michael just seems to materialise out of the darkness and then stabs at Laurie - that is an effective scare.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump